From left : Meghan’s mother Doria Ragland, Britain’s Prince Charles, Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, Prince George, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Princess Charlotte (2nd from right) leave St. George’s Chapel after the royal wedding ceremony of Prince Harry,.
(photo credit: NEIL HALL / POOL VIA REUTERS)
THE LAST time a member of the British royal family paid an official visit to the region now generally known as Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories was in 1862. For four months Queen Victoria’s eldest son and heir, later to be King Edward VII, toured part of the vast Ottoman empire and took in the Galilee, Bethlehem, Jaffa and Jerusalem where, by special permission of the Muslim authorities, he was accompanied on a tour of the holy sites of Islam. Then, escorted by the chief rabbi, he came to the Western Wall, ascended the Mount of Olives, and visited Solomon’s Pool and Rachel’s Tomb.
Over the succeeding 156 years the British Foreign Office, which advises the UK government on such matters, did not deem it appropriate for a British monarch, or even a member of the British royal family, to pay an official visit to the region. During the 70 years since the State of Israel was established, this omission from the extensive range of tours undertaken by the Queen and other members of the royal family became increasingly obvious.